When aged 16, Mark Griffiths used to have a Suzuki AP50, and, despite owning many other far superior machines since, longed to have one in his grasp again. Originally a gearbox and engines man working on cars, Mark, who runs Raccoon Rebuilds, is increasingly seeing his work load centred more around motorcycles, his garage bristling with engines and components he is currently working on for fellow moped restorers.
“After the AP50 I owned as a teenager, I went on to own an RD350LC and then a Suzuki RG500, but it was the little moped that stuck in my memory most of all” Mark, now 42, recalled, “I spent a year trying to find a good example but with little luck, most had been had at and lacked many of the parts needed to restore to anything like its original condition.
The Suzuki was never as prolific as the Fizzie so there is far fewer to be had today, eventually one appeared on eBay that seemed to fit what I was looking for. It looked to be complete and just needed some work to get it back into tip top shape however once I got stuck in the opposite became true. A few vital parts had been removed and lost over time and others that were present but damaged, proved expensive to replace. The worst of these being the seat and headlight bowl, these cost a packet to get replacements, but it was worth the effort to get the right results. The seat cost over £200, and the headlight a further £105, so having good examples to start with would have saved a large proportion of the total restoration costs. Also difficult to find were the correct handle bar grips, I had to fork out £40 just to get them, quite a lot I agree but they look quite unlike any after market grips and nothing else looked right. Having a fully equipped workshop at my disposal, I am able to do most jobs myself, engine work is my speciality so I have no need to farm that kind of work out and as time passes I am finding more and more restorers turning to me to get their engines sorted out.
The first thing I tackled on the AP, and any restoration I do, was the engine, it gives me a quick fix to see a lot of work get done in a short space of time and provides a kick start for the rest of the project. I never worry about the state of the engine when buying bikes, especially when it comes to two strokes as compared to the chassis and bodywork any repairs needed are usually cheap and relatively easy to carry out. Engine parts do not seem to be as scarce to locate or as expensive either, most bearings are available form a variety of sources so it only leaves things like pistons and rings that would be unique to the make and even then they are often the same as other models in the range. When I have needed parts, Earnshaws in Huddersfield have proved to be invaluable, they are real 70’s nuts and own a lot of bikes from the period themselves, so are enthusiastic when it comes to helping fellow owners out, a lot of dealers could certainly learn something from their attitude.
I try to keep outside involvement down to a minimum, as delays and excuses can be frustrating to say the least, but I do have some good contacts for the parts I cant do myself like paint work. Tony at Custom Paint in Herne Bay is great and super reliable too, I found him via the online moped forums after a bad experience with another well known painter, ever since using him for my paintwork I have had no problems and the finish he gets is second to none.
The AP50 took just over 7 months to complete and the bike now looks better than new, it did have the original exhaust fitted but, as my first AP ran a Micron exhaust, I just had to replicate the sound and looks by doing the same with this one. A little tuning work has also worked wonders and, on a recent dyno day at Dyno Pro, the little Suzuki was rated at over 8bhp, almost twice the power of the original machine and making for a really fun ride. I own several other machines including a Fizzie and a big bore RD400 that is great fun, but I do try to get out the baby Suzook it as often as possible. The local moped fraternity have regular meets, with ride outs in the countryside, or gatherings at the nearby Ace Café, so I take it along as there aren’t many AP’s around, especially ones as fast as mine.
I would be reluctant to take on an AP50 again due to the scarcity of certain parts; this alone made the restoration a true nightmare, and an expensive one at that. It was worth it in the end, and I am happy with the bike but it was hard, and sometimes frustrating, work to carry out.”
Earnshaws motorcycles - Tel 01484 421 232 - www.earnshaws.net
Dyna Pro - Tel 0208 560 3327
Raccoon rebuilds - Tel 07719 931 029
Paintwork - tel 01227 369 652
Suzuki AP50 Specification;
- Price £500
- Value now (est): £1500-1800
- Power: 8.5bhp
- Torque: 4ft-lb
- Top speed 60mph
- Dry weight: 72kg
- Colours: Blue Red
- Fuel: 7.5litres
- Rake/trail: 26deg/98mm
- Seat height: 780mm
- Wheelbase: 1200mm
- Engine: air-cooled 49cc (41 x 37.8mm), single cylinder two-stroke. 16mm Mikuni carb. 5-gears. Chain final drive
- Chassis: pressed steel frame, 27mm non-adjustable telescopic forks, twin oil-damped rear shocks
- Brakes:110mm single-leading-shoe drum brake front and rear
- Tyres: 2.25 x 17 front, 2.50 x 17 rear
Strive to find a complete bike when buying, a few missing parts here and there can prove both costly and time consuming when it comes to rebuild time.
Research all you can before committing to buy, some parts can be either very expensive or no longer available.
Keep stripped items and parts together, either bagged up or in storage containers to prevent mix-ups and losses over time.
Do try to have a go yourself when ever possible, its far cheaper and you can always turn to professional help if you get it wrong.
When buying two strokes don’t worry too much about the engine, these are relatively cheap to sort out compared to the cosmetics.
Suzuki AP50 Restoration Gallery